Israel

Should Housefather cross the floor now and join the Conservative Party of Canada?

Last week I had the pleasure to address the Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club. There were about 30 people on hand at the Aquatic and Community Centre and another 80 or so watching online. With 770 members this is one well-oiled machine.

Housefather-265x352
Anthony Housefather


I touched on many topics which I will elaborate on later in this piece. But let me fast forward to the question period and the discussion I had with members when I departed. Many of the individuals wanted my take on the Federal Liberal Party, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and our Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather. These days they are all facing a common among Jewish residents of the riding in particular: not wanting to cast their vote in favor of Trudeau.


The next federal election is not expected to be held until the fall of 2025 as long as the NDP continues to blackmail the Liberals for their support. Billions of our dollars are being poured into NDP-supported programs like pharma care and dental care in order to ensure the Liberals do nor lose a vote of confidence. I am not saying that either of the NDP initiatives are bad for the population. However, with a bulging deficit can we really afford them at this time?

MeCharlesEkloveBernie
With Charles Eklove and Bernie Green after my address to the Men's Club.

So what do people in Mount Royal do if Trudeau sticks around as leader? Do they still support Housefather, who is probably the best MP we’ve ever had? He was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc for 10 years, my first decade on council, so I know him well. Anthony thinks of his constituents first. He was never Trudeau’s choice for the Mount Royal nomination. Yet he beat his competitor handily. Mount Royal traditionally became the home of a cabinet minister. Both the late Sheila Finestone and Irwin Cotler were accorded those honors; not Anthony.


When the Liberals adopted new language legislation Bill C-13 last spring by a 301-1 to vote, Housefather was the only dissenter. That drew praise from his constituents. Rightfully so, he insisted that the federal bill took a wrong turn by referring to Bill 101, Quebec’s Charter of the French Language, which was extensively overhauled via Bill 96, our controversial law that toughens French language rules.

Trudeau's_message_on_Christmas_2023_(0m29s)_(cropped)
Justin Trudeau

Soon after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, followed by the war in Gaza, Housefather became an instant spokesperson for the Jewish State. While Trudeau has tried to walk a fine line between the Israeli and Palestinian positions, he has failed to satisfy either side. Housefather has found himself consistently speaking out against his own party. The straw that broke the camel’s back came when the NDP proposed a motion in the House of Commons calling on Canada to recognize the "State of Palestine." While a much watered-down position passed, only the Federal Conservative Party and three Liberals – Housefather, Marco Mendicino and Ben Carr- voted against it.


Housefather subsequently went public about how this left him feeling "isolated" and he is now "reflecting" on his place within caucus.


At the Men’s Club I was asked specifically why Housefather would not cross the floor and join the Conservatives. Leader Pierre Poilievre may have his faults, but like his predecessor Stephen Harper he supports Israel to the highest level. Over the last few months he has been visiting Montreal-area synagogues. His chief lieutenant Melissa Lantsman, accompanied by longtime Tory insider Neil Drabkin, was making the rounds last week. She is Jewish and the reception she received was warm. If Trudeau stays on, the Tories think they can take Mount Royal.


Now that Housefather has opened the door to reflecting on his future with the Liberals, and hanging his hat on the Israel issue, I believe his constituents would applaud a move to the Tories, Poilievre is going to win the next federal election. If Housefather makes the move now, he would all but be assured of being named to the cabinet – a dream come true.


I am sure this is a terribly difficult decision for Housefather to make. He has been a lifelong Liberal. But is this the same party that he first joined? Now is the time for his constituents to speak up. If enough of them tell him to cross the floor, maybe he will. I for one would strongly recommend it.

Let me conclude with some comments about my Men’s Club appearance. Thanks to President Charles Eklove and director Bernie Green for inviting me. My topic was A Man With Many Hats: City Councillor, Journalist and Education Sector Communications Official.


I touched upon my role with the English Montreal School Board and our battles with the Quebec government over Bills 21, 40 and 96; the constant attacks on the English community by the CAQ government; the lackluster performance of the provincial Liberals and our need to give the Canadian Party of Quebec some support for speaking up for us; The Suburban Newspaper and the important role it continues to play in the community; COVID-19 and the fact that if you feel sick these days up to date rapid tests are impossible to find and nobody seems to care about spreading germs to others any more; the local restaurant scene; and an update from Côte Saint-Luc city council.


Thanks again to the Men’s Club for having me. This is one influential voting bloc and there is no question, I’d say, that most of them would like to see Housefather free from the Trudeau regime. We shall see.


Luis Grinhauz and Berta Rosenohl perform to benefit the children of Ashkelon

Bravo to the husband and wife team of Luis Grinhauz on violin and Berta Rosenohl on piano  of Musica Camerata for the wonderful concert they put on Sunday at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium in Côte Saint-Luc.

There was no admission charge, but people were asked to give donations as they entered in support of the children of Ashkelon, Israel. That is Côte Saint-Luc’s twin city which has been the victim of countless rocket attacks from Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

 

Luisand Berta
Luis and Berta perform.

 

Luis and Berta performed some Hanukkah songs as well as pieces from the likes of Fritz Kreisler, Felix Mendelssohn, Enrique Granados, Jan Sibelius, Johanne Brahms, Maria Theresia Von Paradis, John Williamsm Astor Piazzolla, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaichovsky and Bedrich Smetana.

MitchellElaineGrandson
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, First Lady Elaine and their grandson were in attendance.

 

Married since the 1960s, Luis and Berta established Musica Camerata more than 50 years ago. Luis is from Argentina’s Entre Ríos Province, where Polish and Russian Jews found haven on farms and ranches after fleeing pogroms. Berta is from Buenos Aires. Both chose to study in the United States, at Indiana University. They arrived in Quebec in 1970, when Luis joined the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. I am proud to say that the couple are District 2 constituents of mine.

If you’d like to contribute to the Ashkelon fund go to https://cotesaintluc.org/Ashkelon


 


US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism makes private visit to CSL City Hall

Deborah E. Lipstadt, described by Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather as the foremost expert on antisemitism in the world, made a private visit to Côte Saint-Luc City Hall on December 7. On March 30, 2022, she was confirmed by the United States Senate as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, with the rank of Ambassador.

LipstadtMenorah
Lipstadt lights the Chanukah menorah with Mayor Brownstein, Mayor Levi and Councillor Sidney Benizri.

 

It was Housefather who arranged this extraordinary opportunity. He joined the meeting via Zoom, with many Parliamentary votes pending in Ottawa. Also in attendance were Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, some members of city council, Hampstead Mayor Jeremy Levi, Beth Zion Congregation President Charles Benedek, Montreal West Councillor Lauren Small-Pennefather, EMSB Commissioner Jamie Fabian, representatives for Housefather and D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Elisabeth Prass, Montreal  filmmaker Beverly Shaffer (who confided she was Lipstadt's former college roommate) and several officials from the United States Embassy and Consulate. Bravo to our Director of Public Affairs and Communications Darryl Levine for the role he played in coordinating the gathering.

Housefather said he is calling upon the Canadian Heritage Committee to create a Task Force on Antisemitism at university campuses. He wants to see university presidents called to Parliament Hill and grilled.

Mayor Brownstein gave a preview of our city’s impending action plan against antisemitism. “It takes a lot of people at all levels of government to make this happen,” he says. “And it can’t just be the Jewish community.”

Lipstadt told the group that she had lunch at what she called a “Jewish deli in Montreal” that for years has placed a Chanukah menorah in its window. They did not do so this year, she confided, afraid of what the response might be.

“You are aware,” she said, “that we are seeing a tsunami of antisemitism. University leaders are at a loss. They don’t know what to do. For too many years university campuses did not take antisemitism seriously.”

Since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel and the ensuing war, Lipstadt said she has travelled the globe. “In every cases governments are taking this seriously,” she said. “It does not mean they are doing the right thing."

Lipstadt is a decorated scholar of antisemitism through history. She famously prevailed against Holocaust denier David Irving in a years-long trial in British courts. But even she said she is taken aback by the vitriol that has spiked after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which the Israeli government has called the biggest single-day killing of Jews since the Holocaust. “I find myself gobsmacked, flabbergasted,” she told the Washington Post recently. “ And I don’t flabbergast easily. You can’t be a scholar of the Holocaust and be surprised by things. And yet even I have a hard time. I don’t want to say uncomprehending, because I can comprehend, but I have a hard time absorbing all that’s going on.”

Lipstadt says she wishes to use the power of her office to draw attention to the issue and to push other governments to stay vigilant about protecting their Jewish populations. “We take this seriously,” she remarked. “Jews may not seem to present as other victims of religious ethnic, racial bigotry present, but it is to be taken seriously. So I think that that’s one of the messages that I transmit, that the United States government, this administration and previous administrations, both sides of the aisle of Congress, rarely do we get to use the word bipartisan concern, you know, but certainly on this issue, there is bipartisan concern.”


Hope and Harmony Concert Sunday to benefit our twin city of Ashkelon

Many years ago, on a Jewish National Fund (JNF) mission to Israel, our leader Yaacov Perez agreed to make a stop in Ashkelon. Since some of us were from Côte Saint-Luc, we wanted to see for ourselves our twin city in Israel. It was a very special experience.

Thumbnail_Ashkelon Fundraising Concert Poster

When war broke out in Israel on October 7, following the horrific Hamas terrorist attack, rockets were fired into the Jewish State and many hit structures in Ashkelon. It is only 13 km north of the Gaza Strip. A story in the Christian Science Monitor notes that since October 7, some 1,300 Hamas rockets have been fired at Ashkelon, with 200 of them falling in the city area. It has been an “absolute miracle” that only two people died under rocket fire, considering that 25,000 of its 158,000 residents have no access to bomb shelters.

Ashkelonbuilding
A scene of destruction in Ashkelon.

 

On Sunday, December 10 (2 pm) a   Hope and Harmony  fundraising concert will take place in tour Greenspon Auditorium to help support the children of Ashkelon during these difficult times so that they can continue with school in this time of war. Performing will be Musica Camerata, headed by my constituents Luis Grinhauz and Berta Rosenohl.

Registration is required for the event. You can register and donate online here: http://www.CoteSaintLuc.org/event and scroll down to December 10. Or just donate at https://cotesaintluc.org/Ashkelon

 


Our Public Safety teams stands tall in the wake of terrorist attack in Israel

There is no question that following the terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel last week, Jews around the world have been feeling frightened  and vulnerable. Côte Saint-Luc has the largest Jewish population per capita in the province and we have many community institutions.

On Friday, October 13, Jewish communities were reacting to a threat by Hamas for a Global Jihad. No such incidents took place, but nonetheless our city was very much on alert.

PublicSafetyChabad
Our Public Safety team meets with the leadership from Beth Chabad CSL..

A big thanks to the team at Police Station 9,  our Public Safety Department and the Volunteer Citizens on Patrol (VCOPs). They have been extremely present and visible, meeting with religious leaders and businesses. Côte Saint-Luc resident Yair Szlak is the president and CEO of Federation CJA. He has shown tremendous leadership in that position through so many crisis situations over the years and these past few days have been no difference. Listen to his latest podcast

"An impressive number of resources have been deployed in the hope of restoring some sense of security," notes CSL Public Safety Director Philip Chateauvert. "The objective remains the same: to provide sufficient security for community members and organizations to feel comfortable in maintaining their usual activities.

I would also like to share some words from Rabbi Zolly Claman, the spiritual leader for Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem.

"There are no words that can properly describe our pain and anguish for the current national crisis and disaster," stated Rabbi Claman. "Anyone who has close family and friends in Israel right now has heard firsthand accounts that are far more tragic than our minds can imagine.  On Har Herzl, my niece comforted her close friend and classmate as she witnessed her older brother being laid to rest.  On her yishuv, my sister watched as every strong-abled man was ushered out to join the front lines in battle. We mourn the loss of each of the hundreds of precious and our souls whose lives were brutally cut short."

Il ne fait aucun doute qu'à la suite de l'attaque terroriste perpétrée par le Hamas en Israël la semaine dernière, les Juifs du monde entier se sont sentis effrayés et vulnérables. Côte Saint-Luc a la plus grande population juive par habitant de la province et nous avons de nombreuses institutions communautaires.


Le vendredi 13 octobre, les communautés juives ont réagi à la menace d'un Jihad mondial proférée par le Hamas. Aucun incident de ce genre n'a eu lieu, mais notre ville était néanmoins en état d'alerte.

Notre équipe de sécurité publique rencontre les dirigeants de Beth Chabad CSL.

Un grand merci à l'équipe du poste de police 9, à notre service de sécurité publique et aux citoyens volontaires en patrouille (VCOP). Ils ont été extrêmement présents et visibles, rencontrant les chefs religieux et les entreprises. Yair Szlak, résident de Côte Saint-Luc, est le président-directeur général de la Fédération CJA. Il a fait preuve d'un leadership remarquable à ce poste dans de nombreuses situations de crise au fil des ans, et ces derniers jours n'ont pas fait exception à la règle. Écoutez son dernier podcast

"Un nombre impressionnant de ressources ont été déployées dans l'espoir de rétablir un certain sentiment de sécurité", note le directeur de la sécurité publique de la CSL, Philip Chateauvert. "L'objectif demeure le même : assurer une sécurité suffisante pour que les membres de la communauté et les organisations se sentent à l'aise de poursuivre leurs activités habituelles.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mayor of Gaza-border town shares stories about missile attacks at CSL talk

On the  final swing of a  cross-Canada tour for the Jewish National Fund,  the Mayor of a small  Israeli town only one kilometer from the Gaza Strip spoke at the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc.

 

GroupIsraeliMayor
Sidney Benizri, myself, Anthony Housefather, Mayor Brownstein, Mayor Davidi,  David Birnbaum, Dida Berku, David Tordjman and  Dorel Abramovitz.

 

Alon Davidi, the Mayor of Sderot, has been travelling across the country with his Director of Resource Development  Dorel Abramovitz in order to share the town’s story, as well as to raise money for a Zoo-therapy centre for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  victims. I was among the members of city council, along with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein,  D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA  David Birnbaum, Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Israel Consul General David Levy and other dignitaries at a cocktail with the Mayor. This was followed by a talk open to the public.

Mayor Davidi and his wife Nurit  have seven children. Born in Be'er Sheva, he studied at the Benny Wolfson Yeshiva in the city and later at the Karnei Shomron hesder yeshiva. BA in Education and MA in Administration and Public Policy. He arrived in Sderot 22 years ago. He taught for two years at the local high school and managed the hesder yeshiva in Sderot, served as advisor to the Minister of Housing Effie Eitam and founded the "Headquarters for the Security of Sderot,"which worked hard to restore security to the residents of Sderot. He was elected to the city council in 2008 and since 2013 serves as mayor of Sderot.  

Davidi
JNF  Montreal Executive Director Galith Levy presents a Habs shirt to the mayor.

Over the years Sderot has been pounded by missile attacks fired from Gaza. A town of  28,000 people against a Hamas-controlled terrorist territory which is home to 1.7  million. It is hard to believe that despite this danger and the necessity to consistently hide in bomb shelters, people keep flocking to live there.  The Mayor estimated  that by 2025 he expects  the population to swell past 50,000.

The incidents of PTSD in  Sderot are alarming – 80 percent of kids are victims. The Mayor spoke about one of his children and how the attacks  affected her. It was the animal assisted therapy program which finally broke her out of her shell. The new Resilience Centre they are building will cost $1.5 million. When they  arrived in Canada  they were $465,000 short of their goal. Donations via JNF Canada are being solicited.

“It’s very tough,”  the Mayor said. “Hamas wants to destroy not only Sderot, but all Israel.”

A captain in the IDF, the Mayor expressed the community’s gratitude to Israel’s military for protecting the city. “We continually visited soldiers and gave them food, clothing, everything,” he declared.

There is presently only one Reslience Centre in Sderot  and it does not have the capacity to serve all the children that need treatment. “It’s not enough, it’s never enough,” said Abramovitz. “The city of Sderot is working alongside JNF to create another Resilience Center that can serve the entire Gaza envelope."

Much of the development that has taken place in Sderot over the past 15 years has been in spite of the efforts of Hamas to tear down their city and force the people out. "I think the fact that our city is growing and thriving is a counter to their attacks,” said Abramovitz.

Bravo to JNF for organizing the tour. It is too bad more Montrealers did not attend this interesting talk.


Newly arrived Israeli Consul General given welcome to Côte Saint-Luc

It has only been two weeks since Ziv Nevo Kulman arrived in Montreal as Israel’s Consul General for Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces and he has already discovered what a special place Côte Saint-Luc is. He spent Yom Kippur at the home of a noted resident of our community, attending services at a few local shuls. On Monday, October 6 I invited him to City Hall to meet with Mayor Anthony Housefather and members of council.

20141006 18-54-10 Consull General Ziv Nevo Kulman visits city hall
The Consul General, attired in his new CSL cap, with the mayor and members of council.

The Consul General's predecessor, Joel Lion, actually rented a home in Côte Saint-Luc for three years. He and his wife have eight children, so that about explains it. Nevo Kulman does not have a family here with him and will reside near the Consulate in Westmount. "I feel among family here," he told us. "Although I will not be living in Côte Saint-Luc, you can be sure I will be coming here a lot."

Nevo Kulman visits city hall
The Consul General makes a point.

About 70 percent of Côte Saint-Luc's population of 33,000 is Jewish. We have a tremendous Israeli spirit (not to mention many native Israelis). On Yom Ha'atzmaut we fly Israeli flags along Cavendish Boulevard. Our sister city in Israel is Ashkelon, the site of shellings from Hamas in the recent war. We initiated a fundraising campaign to assist them. Last summer our mayor won seven medals at the Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv.

The Consul General has chosen a truly unique way of introducing himself to the community via this slick YouTube video.

 

 

Watch the video. It is a fabulous introduction of the man.

I provided the Consul General with a brief tour of our public library and he was thoroughly impressed.

 

 


The now former CSL resident Joel Lion departs as Israel Consul General

Côte Saint-Luc had a distinct honour the past three years as charismatic Joel Lion, the Israeli Consul General for Quebec and the Maritimes, chose our community to reside. He and his wife Rivka rented a home in CSL, which became the official residence.

Here is my blog on The Suburban Newspaper website about Mr. Lion and his thoughts on his term here.

Lionstagemotion


CSL Mayor Housefather wins seven medals at Maccabiah Games

Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather (pictured poolside below) has been proudly representing Canada at the Maccabiah Games (a.k.a. the Jewish Olympics) in Israel. As a member of the Canadian master's swim team, he has won seven medals : five silvers in the 100 and 400  metre butterfly, the 50 metre backstroke, open water and  the medley relay .  He also captured a bronze in the 200 metre freestyle while being part of relay team which also captured a bronze.

Housefatherpic

“My times have been generally very good and very pleased,” said the mayor, who missed a gold by four tenths of a second in the 400 metre freestyle.

The final  tally from the pool is eight medals (five individual silvers, one individual bronze and two relay bronze. Clearly the mayor is Canada’s answer to Michael Phelps.  “Our team manager believes this was the most medals won by a Canadian in the games so far so very pleased,” the mayor added.

Here is some more Maccabiah Games news:

Gold in Metula: It was a golden day for Canadian Men's Hockey. The Men's Junior team won their gold medal match over USA 3-2, while the Canadian Men's Open Team won their gold medal game 7-1 over Team USA. Canadians Men's Open Captain Adam Henrich was named player of the tournament on the Mens Open side, while Canadian Junior goaltender Mark Michaels was named player of the tournament on the junior side.

Men's Volleyball: In the gold medal game in Modi'in, Canada fell to Israel in straight sets (3-0). The guys fought hard, but in the end the U-21 team (for the most part) from Israel was just too strong. The pro-Canadian crowd - our rugby, Jr. girls volleyball, Jr. boys baseball teams and hundreds of other Canadians were in attendance — definitely showed their support with chants of CA-NA-DA filling the gym throughout the match. The team's showing was the best finish by a Canadian men's volleyball team in Maccabiah Games history.

Master's Tennis: The wins kept coming for Canada on the tennis courts yesterday. In Masters Singles, Sherry Buller finished off her Russian opponent to set herself up with a Gold medal match on Sunday. Bram Faber dominated his match and will go for Gold on Sunday as well. In Mixed Doubles, Sherry Buller was at it again and did not disappoint. She and her partner Adam Fisher won 2 consecutive matches to bring home another Gold medal for Canada.

Silver on the Diamond. After an epic win against Israel in the semi-finals the day before, Canada's Junior Boys Baseball team came up short against USA in the gold medal game losing 9-0. The boys had a great tournament and the crowd at yesterday's game was definitely proud of their silver medal accomplishment.

Soccer Update: The Open Women's team rebounded from its tough loss on Thursday against Israel with a resounding 7-0 win over Germany. For complete soccer results, check out www.maccabiah.com.
 
Cricket: Canada matched up against Great Britain yesterday in their second last round robin game. They came out hitting well, but in the end, lost the contest 102-101 and Great Britain had 10 wickets in hand. Canada's last round robin game is on Sunday against India and the outcome will determine whether or not they will be playing for a medal on Monday.

Basketball Update: On Friday, many of our hoops team hit the court. Here are there results: U16 Boys beat Brazil 44-42; Master's Men's team fell to USA 80-75; and Open Men's team lost to Israel 110-75. Our Open Women's team will play for Bronze eitherSunday or Monday (yet to be determined).


 


CSL well represented at Israel Day Rally

More than 10,000 people, Jews and non-Jews alike, gathered in downtown Montreal on April 26 for the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut Solidarity Rally. Weather conditions were ideal as a march began from Phillips Square, leading to the large open space of Place du Canada. Dozens of school buses lined the side streets, having transported students and citizens from across the island.

Lionhand

The Jewish Unity Partnership, headed by Côte Saint-Luc businessman Amos Sochaczevski, once again spearheaded this lively event which included very few speeches but lots of singing and dancing.  Charismatic Joel Lion (right), the Consul General of Israel for Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces who lives in CSL, was the first to address the crowd.  Taking the microphone in hand he walked across the stage and in French urged everyone to cheer loudly for the State of Israel. He introduced a videotaped message from Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, which was delivered on a crystal clear portable screen on wheels with perfect sound. The audience responded with great appreciation when he specifically recognized Montreal.

Senator Leo Housakos represented the government of Canada. Housakos lauded Israel as a democracy and an example for other countries in the Middle East to follow. He  acknowledged the attendance of  Thanos Kafopoulos, the Consul General of Greece in Quebec (below with Joel Lion), as well as leaders of the province’s Hellenic community.  He then directed the audience once more to the big screen for a well received message by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who remains very popular with the local Jewish community. Mount Royal Liberal MP and CSL resident  Irwin Cotler and Westmount-Ville Marie Liberal MP Marc Garneau were in attendance as well. The City of Montreal and a number of municipalities were represented. From CSL city council, myself, MItchell Brownstein, Dida Berku, Glenn J. Nashen  and Sam Goldbloom were on hand.

Consuks

Music was provided by local artists, along with a group from Kiryat Atta in Israel.   

The same day as the rally, Consul General Lion published an opinion piece in the The Montreal Gazette.  “Think ‘Israel’ and what comes to mind?” he asked in the opening sentence. “It's a good question to ask on Israel's Independence Day, when the Israel Day rally takes place in Montreal. The first thing most readers will think of is my country's decades-long conflict with the Palestinians. To others, the mere mention of Israel conjures up images of a mystic land promised to the Israelites by none other than God himself. And some see Israel as an exotic land somewhere far, far away - a place where nomadic tribes shepherd their camels through dunes as far as the eye can see.

“When I think of Israel, I see my home, a land that is as vibrant and diverse as it is creative. Every time I land at Ben Gurion Airport after a long sojourn abroad, I am amazed at how much Israel has changed in my own lifetime. From our humble rebirth in the tragic aftermath of the Holocaust, we have, in just 64 years, evolved from a largely agrarian nation of the Third World to a developed nation. Whereas Israel was once the land of Jaffa oranges and raisins, today it is - as one New York Times bestseller coined it - the ‘Start-up Nation’ the land of Intel microchips and nanotechnology.”

De Sousa, Jacob, Joe Zagury115

In just over six decades, Lion noted that the Israeli population has grown more than nine fold, from roughly 800,000 in 1948 to just over 7.8 million today. “With immigrants and refugees from 120 countries and an Arab minority numbering about 20 per cent of the population, Israelis are proud to celebrate our different ethnic backgrounds, languages and traditions,” he stated.  “We are equally proud of our country's thriving democracy and robust society.”

Lion concluded by noting how Israel shares the Palestinian people's dream of statehood.”That dream, however, must be based on the principle of two states for two peoples - one state for the Jewish people and another for the Palestinian people - and not of one state on the ashes of the other,” he said “The first step is to sit down face to face. If Israel has accomplished so much in 64 years without peace, just think what Israelis, Palestinians and the region as a whole could accomplish with it.”

I spoke with many other CSL residents at the event. This included the great Harry Kloda, who provided the sound  and stage; CSL Senior Men's Club president Sidney Margles and newly appointed Canadian Institute for Jewish Research senior executive Jacob Kincler, pictured above with St. Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa and photographer Joseph Zagury. Below, there I am in the crowd with Hampstead Councillor Harvey "Safer With " Schaffer and Cotler. Thanks to Dida Berku for that photo.

Israelrally2012

Bravo to Amos Sochaczevski and his team.